Vehicles with manual transmissions offer plenty of benefits that are often overlooked. According to the New York Daily News, manual transmissions break down less frequently, offer better fuel economy, and are generally cheaper than comparable automatic models. Despite the positive perks, the seemingly steep learning curve of using a stick shift causes most people to steer clear and buy a car with an automatic transmission instead.
But what if we told you that learning to use a manual transmission isn’t an insurmountable task? We’ve created this guide to show you the basics of how to drive a stick shift. Check out the steps below to see if driving a stick shift sounds like something you might want to do.
Step 1: Get Familiar with Your Surroundings
The first thing you’ll notice when you get in the car is that things are a little different. You’ll see the gear shift. You’ll find a clutch pedal to the left of the brake. Practice fiddling with the gear shift. Remember, do not shift gears unless the clutch is all the way pressed in. Practice using two feet at the same time. It’s important to feel comfortable before you start driving.
Step 2: Starting the Car
After learning your surroundings and fastening your seatbelt, you’re ready to start the car. Press the clutch pedal all the way in with your left foot and push the brake in with your right foot. Then, turn on the car.
Step 3: Getting Into First Gear
When you’re ready to start moving, make sure the clutch is still pressed in and shift to first gear. Start to slowly release the clutch and when the car just begins to move, hold your left foot steady. Give the car a little bit of gas with your right foot and slowly ease off the clutch as you begin to accelerate.
Step 4: Changing Gears
If your car is now in first gear and moving at a decent speed, it’s time to shift to the next gear. Take your foot off the gas pedal, push the clutch all the way in again, and shift the car into second gear. Ease off the clutch with your left foot and put your right foot back on the gas pedal. Upshifting for other gears works the same way.
Step 5: Slowing & Stopping
If you need to come to a stop, press in the clutch and shift the car to neutral. Then, apply the brake as needed as you coast to a stop. When the car is stopped, make sure to keep your foot on the brake.
Step 6: Parking
If you’re slowing down to park, follow the same steps to slow down, but when you come to a stop, push the clutch pedal down all the way, move the stick to first gear, and turn off the vehicle. Make sure to put on the parking brake before exiting the vehicle.
Remember, these are the absolute basics of driving a stick shift, and mastering a manual transmission takes practice. If this blog has inspired you to try it out, make sure you have a teacher. Find a (patient) friend or search for a driving school that offers lessons in your area. Also, make sure you locate an empty parking lot, abandoned airport, or somewhere else with plenty of space to practice. There, with proper guidance, you can get the hang of the fundamentals above and learn all the nuances like downshifting and timing. If you stall the car a few times while learning, don’t worry! You’ll eventually get the hang of a manual transmission with enough practice.